Who Was … Thomas Wyatt, Tudor Poet?


Thomas Wyatt was a Tudor poet at the court of Henry VIII. It was rumoured that he was once the lover of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. He was arrested in May 1536 at the same time as Anne but wasn’t charged and later released. Wyatt’s poetry included ‘Whoso List to Hunt’, ‘Sometime I Fled the Fire’ and ‘Circa Regna Tonat’. The latter was written while Wyatt was in the Tower and translates as “about the throne the thunder rolls”.

Name: Thomas Wyatt 

Title/s: Knight (Sir) 

Birth: c. 1503 at Allington Castle, Kent, England 

Death: 11 October 1542 at Clifton Maybank House, Dorset, England 

Buried: Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, England 

Spouse: Elizabeth Brooke 1503-1560 

Children: Thomas Wyatt the Younger 1521-1554 

Parents: Sir Henry Wyatt 1460-1537 & Anne Skinner ?-? 

Siblings: Henry Wyatt ?-? / Margaret Lee c.1506-1543 

Noble Connections: Wyatt supposedly had a relationship with Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Wyatt was arrested along with George Boleyn, Henry Norris, William Brereton, Francis Weston and Mark Smeaton, accused of adultery with Anne but eventually released. Wyatt’s son, also called Thomas Wyatt, led a rebellion against Mary I in 1554 to restore Jane Grey to the throne or put Princess Elizabeth on the throne. 

Controversy: The main controversy surrounding Thomas Wyatt is his supposed relationship with Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. It is said that Wyatt and Anne had a relationship and Wyatt backed off when Henry VIII became interested in her. Some of his poetry seems to reference Anne and their relationship without mentioning her by name, and he was arrested for adultery with her, although he wasn’t tried and was eventually released. 

Works of Fiction:  

  • Jones, Nicholas, Mistrustful Minds (2014)

Portrayals on Screen:  

  • Jamie Thomas King, The Tudors, 2007-2008, 14 episodes

Further Reading:  

  • Brigden, Susan, Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest (2012) 
  • Rebholz, R A., Wyatt: The Complete Poems (1978) 
  • Shulman, Nicola, Graven With Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy (2011) 
  • Thomson, Patricia, Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Background (1964) 
  • Wilkinson, Josephine, The Early Loves of Anne Boleyn (2009)
  • Thomas Wyatt Sketch by Hans Holbein.
  • Padraic Delaney as George Boleyn and Jamie Thomas King as Thomas Wyatt in 'The Tudors' (2008).

Author: Helene Harrison

I have an MA in History, with a thesis entitled 'The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film'. I have an interest in the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses along with my love of reading and literature.

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